Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

Surrey Pretrial Services Centre is the subject of yet another human rights complaint lodged by an inmate.

The pretrial centre has been the target of several largely unsuccessful human rights complaints over the past couple of years. The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal has dismissed part of this latest case but another aspect of it will proceed to a hearing.

Surrey Pretrial is a remand centre for inmates awaiting trial or sentencing related to criminal charges and anywhere from 400 to 500 people are incarcerated there at any given time.

Kevin Miller lodged a complaint against Surrey Pretrial for refusing to provide him with a second mattress to assist him in managing arthritis pain despite his doctor having recommended one.

“Second, he says that the respondents failed to provide him with reasonable access to mental health services,” Tribunal member Emily Ohler noted in her Dec. 2 reasons for decision.

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Miller filed his complaint against the centre, the Provincial Health Services Authority and Chiron Health Services but Ohler dismissed his complaint against the two health agencies. She also dismissed his complaint related to mental disability but decided his physical disability complaint, concerning a period from Sept. 6, 2017 to Dec. 11, 2017 will proceed.

All three respondents denied discriminating. The pretrial told the tribunal that an extra mattress is a security concern inside a prison because it can be used to hide contraband, to clog plumbing or hide what’s going on in an inmate’s cell by propping it against the door.

Ohler also noted the pretrial centre argued an extra mattress might “increase tension between incarcerated people by acting as a status symbol or a resource to trade.”

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The tribunal heard that on Sept. 6, 2017 Miller saw a doctor who recommended a second mattress for him, he didn’t get one, and that he saw a doctor on Dec. 11, 2017 who declined his request for one. Miller managed to somehow sneak a second mattress into his cell but it was confiscated. He was released from custody on Jan. 15, 2018.

In the end, Ohler decided against the pretrial’s application to have Miller’s complaint dismissed.

“I am not persuaded that there is no reasonable prospect that Mr. Miller could succeed in establishing that Corrections’ denial of a second mattress breached the Code,” she said.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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